Behind the Scenes During the Off Season, I: Dog Training

Written by: Vickie Lamb, Brush Creek Ranch Wingshooting Manager

Brush Creek Ranch’s pointer female, Chico, is deep into winter training in Texas and demonstrates the
intensity and steadiness necessary for successful bird work.
Photo by Vickie Lamb

In the winter and early spring of the year, wingshooting pursuits seem rather far away, except perhaps in dreams and plans of hunters for the upcoming season. While this is true in some ways, there is a tremendous amount of preparation that goes on behind the scenes of a successful wingshooting program. Much dedication and hard work is quietly being invested through the off year in building toward the new season of shooting. Many things must be done that don’t often cross the minds of aspiring wingshooters, and some of these projects will be shared in upcoming posts. We’ll begin with perhaps one of the most important aspects of all, the training of the dogs, as they are an integral part of an enjoyable hunt.

Stop and think for a moment. Throughout a lengthy season, trained dogs being hunted in an outfitter’s program are exposed to and work thousands of birds, and those birds are also shot over them. Even individual hunters who go out on weekends locally with their dogs have the potential to put them in lots of birds. In both cases, the most seasoned and experienced of dogs will demonstrate a tendency to come a bit apart at the seams over time, and the winter months afford the opportunity for trainers to regroup with their dogs and bring them back into an effective, working frame of mind. It is also a perfect time to bring young and intermediate dogs into the fold. All levels of dogs can benefit from a brush-up on basic fundamentals of commands and skills, as this foundation provides a solid base for every persuasion and method of hunting, and for all breeds of gun dogs. We’ll examine the core of foundation in our next installment.

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